We drive Volvo's smallest SUV, the XC40

If you’re looking for a smaller Volvo option, the new XC40 is going to impress!

Previously, the Volvo brand was better known for its large SUVs (like the XC90) and estate cars (V90 Cross Country), but that was no longer the case after the XC40 was launched.  If you’re looking for a smaller Volvo option, the new XC40 is going to impress!

The new Volvo XC40, Volvo’s premium compact SUV, launched in South Africa in April this year (2018) and more recently we’ve been sampling it in and around Cape Town.

What we love about the new Volvo XC40

The Volvo XC40 captures everything that’s great about its bigger siblings, and brings it all into this cheekier, smaller and cheaper XC40.

Stand out design 

An expressive and unique exterior makes the XC40 a real eye-catcher on the road. During my week with it on test, it was rare that I’d walk up to it in a parking lot without someone commenting on what a great-looking car I had (if only it WAS mine!)

We love the two-toned exterior and the Fusion Red with white colour option on our T5 AWD really stands out and gives it a fresh, vibrant appearance.

Volvo interior 

Step inside and you’re met with everything that’s typically Volvo: refined surfaces, lush materials and a well-equipped cabin that offers a surprisingly large amount of space despite being a small SUV.

It also offers enough support and comfort to keep you and your friends (or grandparents in my case) comfortable and safe on longer trips.

New design elements like the optional, Oxide Red leather and ‘Lava’ carpets, which are made from 100% recycled materials, will allow XC40 customers to express a more individualistic style.

Also read: Volvo Cars aims for 25 per cent recycled plastics in every new car from 2025

Functional practicality has also been a major focus on the inside of the XC40, where smart features like a removable rubbish bin, a cubby hole hook and a multi-adaptable boot floor, transform a typically cluttered and sometimes messy car interior into a place of serenity and organised efficiency.


The XC40’s bespoke interior includes the revered 9-inch Sensus Connect touch screen and digital instrument cluster. A dedicated smartphone storage area with wireless (inductive) charging quickly became one of our favourite features, particularly when stuck in traffic jams, trying to use traffic apps for alternative routes with a low phone battery!

Care By Volvo 

The XC40 also introduces the new Care by Volvo subscription model, whereby customers are able to subscribe to a car rather than buy it, for a fixed monthly fee which includes the likes of service, maintenance, insurance and other added value benefits. Care by Volvo is under consideration for introduction in South Africa with a planned date of mid-2019.

More Key Features


City Safety is included as standard in the new XC40. This system senses potential collisions, even when it is dark, and can activate the brakes automatically should you not react in time. City Safety provides three levels of intervention; warning, brake support and full autonomous braking, and uses a combination of instruments and sensors to constantly monitor surrounding conditions.


The ground-breaking Pedestrian, Cyclist and Large Animal Detection technology detects and automatically brakes the vehicle in the event of a pedestrian, cyclist or large animal (such as cattle) stepping/swerving/jumping out in front of the car. The advanced sensor system scans the area ahead and will prompt you to act with a flashing warning light, along with an audible alarm. If you do not react to the warning, and a collision is imminent, the car immediately brakes with full braking force.


Rearward facing radar detects if a rear impact is imminent, and safety belts are tightened in advance in order to protect the occupants. Lights also start flashing to warn the driver behind and brakes are activated to help reduce the impact movement.


Lane Keeping Aid is a standard-fitted system that helps the driver keep the car in its lane by gently steering the car back if it is about to cross a lane marking, and if the car senses that the driver is not driving actively, or for example, not using their indicators. If the supplied steering intervention is insufficient the driver is alerted by vibrations in the steering wheel. The system is active between 65-200 km/h.


The new XC40 can also help you stay informed by displaying real-world road sign information within your instrument display. This function also has the ability to warn the driver should the vehicle exceed the current road speed limit. At Volvo we understand that you have a lot on your mind sometimes.


Optionally available, is Volvo’s next generation of semi-autonomous technology. The Adaptive Cruise Control feature maintains the desired set vehicle speed but utilises radar to monitor the vehicle in front and automatically slows down or speeds up as necessary. In an evolution of this, Pilot Assist also takes care of the steering (up to 130 km/h and when lane markings are clearly visible) by continually monitoring the area in front of the vehicle, making the necessary steering, accelerator and brake inputs as required to keep to the desired speed, distance and within the lane markings.


The Blind Spot Information System uses sensors to alert the driver to vehicles within the mirror blind spots, on either side of the vehicle. Cross Traffic Alert uses radar to provide information to the driver about vehicles approaching from the side – for example when reversing out of a parking space. New in the XC40, Cross Traffic Alert now also includes braking support, which allows the car to brake on its own if an impact from either side is imminent.


This function allows the car to take over steering control in difficult parallel or perpendicular parking spots. The driver is prompted to control the throttle, braking and gear inputs. The “park out” function also assists in exiting tighter spots.


During low speed manoeuvres, the Visual Park Assist 360º Cameras provide the driver with additional information relating to the car’s surroundings. A birds-eye view of the car is provided via four hidden cameras, digitally stitched together to create a seamless image on the centre screen.


Run-off road accidents are amongst the largest cause of single vehicle accidents. To combat this, Volvo Cars has developed two support systems aimed at helping to avoid a run-off road accident from taking place, or protecting the car’s occupants in the case of an unavoidable road departure.

The Run-off Road Mitigation function is designed to help prevent unintentional road departures at vehicle speeds between 65-140 km/h. Run-off Road Protection focuses on accidental road departure. Using input from the car’s advanced sensor system, the technology is able to detect a run off road scenario.


Distraction, lack of concentration, and falling asleep are major reasons for accidents. In 2007 Volvo Cars introduced a world-first technology to combat this danger. Driver Alert Control keeps track of the car’s path in relation to lane markings on either side, by means of the camera in the windscreen. If the system detects that the car is being driven in an erratic manner the driver gets an alert in the form of an audible signal as well as a text message and a coffee cup symbol in the driver display, that indicate it is time to take a break. With Sensus Navigation, the driver also gets guidance to the next available place to take the break.


The XC40 has become a firm favourite of ours since its launch. We think that its exterior styling and bold presence on the road makes it one of the sexiest looking cars in its segment. It’s a truly desirable vehicle! As the smallest of Volvo’s SUV range, it also appeals to a younger generation of customers, offering a cheaper option than its bigger siblings, the XC60 and XC90.


The new Volvo XC40 starts at R489 500, while our test unit (the XC40 T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum) is priced at R610 900. Go to Volvo Cars for more info.